01/26/2012 07:45 EST | Updated 03/27/2012 05:12 EDT

Coroner says bones found in boot on B.C. beach are not likely human

VANCOUVER - Bones found inside a boot on a Vancouver beach are likely not human and may have come from an animal, says a member of the BC Coroners Service.

The Vancouver police announced Thursday afternoon that somebody walking on the beach in English Bay near the city's maritime museum reported the remains of what appeared to be human bones inside a boot.

Police cordoned off the area and called in the coroners service.

Coroner Barbara McLintock said investigators arrived on the scene and went to work immediately.

"What they found when they got there was a torn and heavily weathered boot and some bone fragments," said McLintock.

"They examined those bone fragments and came to the conclusion that these most likely are not human. They may be from a marine mammal, maybe a seal."

McLintock said the investigation is still in its early stages but doesn't believe the incident is a hoax, saying the bones could have got inside the boot when they washed up on shore.

She said investigators will have to confirm Friday whether the bones are from an animal.

"We are always worried about these things when they may lead us to a missing person or a deceased person we didn't know about, but at the moment it appears these are not human remains."

Nine feet have washed ashore in B.C. since 2007 — the last in a fresh water lake in Port Moody last November — and the coroners service has managed to find identities for six of them.

In previous cases, police and the coroner's service have said the feet apparently separated naturally from bodies in the water without any foul play.

Some severed feet have also been found in Washington state in recent years.

(CKNW AM 980/News 1130)